Joe Biden: Host express concern for his cognitive health
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The US President held an hour-long phone call with his Russian counterpart urging him to “disrupt” hacking groups. REvil, a group based in Russia, launched a cyberattack against Kaseya, an American software firm that provides services to more than 40,000 companies worldwide, in the last week of June.
According to a White House readout, Mr Biden stressed to Mr Putin the US will take “any necessary action” to defend the US.
It said the US President “underscored the need for Russia to take action to disrupt ransomware groups operating in Russia and emphasised that he is committed to continued engagement on the broader threat posed by ransomware”.
It continued: “President Biden reiterated that the United States will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure in the face of this continuing challenge.”
Speaking later to reporters, Mr Biden insisted the attack “appears to have caused minimal damages to U.S. businesses”, despite reports showing at least 1,000 American companies were affected.
REvil also claimed up to one million companies were targeted in their ransomware attack.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, also told reporters in a briefing Mr Biden “made clear” to Mr Putin he must take action against Russian hacking groups.
She said: “While REvil, we know, operates in Russia and other countries around the world, and we don’t have additional or new information suggesting the Russian government directed these attacks, we also know and we also believe that they have a responsibility.
“They have a responsibility to take action. And as you can see in the readout, the President also made clear that the United States will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure.
“So, this was an example of leader-to-leader diplomacy — something the President feels is vital as he operates in the world.”
REvil’s attack on Kaseya has affected up to one million different businesses in at least 17 different countries, according to the hacking group.
They publicly demanded $70 million in Bitcoin to end the attack, but have lowered the figure to $50 million after private negotiations.
Bill Siegel, CEO of ransomware negotiation firm Coveware, told BleepingComputer: “In the Kaseya attack, they opted to try and impact every Kaseya client by targeting the software vs direct ingress to an MSP’s network.
“By going for such a broad impact they appear to have sacrificed the step of encrypting / wiping backups at the MSP control level.”
While Mr Biden has told the FBI to launch an investigation into the hack, he insists he is still “not sure who” is behind the cyberattack.
Analysts however suggested it is no coincidence the attack coincided with the July 4 holiday weekend, when companies would be under-staffed and less able to respond.
Ciaran Martin, founder of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, told BBC Radio 4: “The scale and sophistication of this global crime is rare, if not unprecedented.
“It is a really serious, global operation.”
It comes after Mr Biden and Mr Putin met in Geneva, Switzerland in June for a bilateral meeting, where the US President warned he would retaliate against hacking groups.
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